Check Your UK Change
The coins in your pocket could be worth more than you think.
If you live in the United Kingdom or are just visiting, the next time you walk out of a shop with coins jingling in your pocket or purse, it could be worth checking them before you pass them on. Here's why:
2009 Undated 20-Pence Piece
Following a redesign of the 20-pence coins commencing in 2008, in June 2009, the Royal Mint put into circulation a number of undated 20-pence coins. Apparently, the error occurred when the mint decided to move the date from the reverse to the Queen's head side, and due to an error in the manufacturing process and the mismatch of the old and new designs, a significant number of 20p coins were produced with no date on either the front or reverse. See the illustration below:
So how much are they worth?
The Royal Mint cannot put an exact figure on the number of the coins put into circulation, but they estimate that there were between 50,0000 to 200,000 released before the error was noticed, so there is a reasonable chance that a number of these coins are still in use and being passed on by unsuspecting members of the public. When it became public knowledge in June 2009, the error coins (or Mules) started appearing on eBay, and the earliest entries attracted bids of £1000s of pounds. However, when it became known how many were out there, the price steadily dropped to around £40.00-£50.00 ($64-$80) (however, some coin dealers are still offering £100.00 for one), which is still a pretty good return on 20p investment! They are still very heavily sought after, just check out eBay. However, as more of the coins disappear into collections and are squirrelled away as investments, no doubt they will grow in value. As of October 2011, the undated 20p coins are regularly appearing on eBay and reaching £50-£60, proving that there must be some still out in circulation and there is a strong demand from collectors.
**Caution—Buyers Beware!!** If you are looking to purchase an undated 20p coin on an auction site, such as eBay, carefully check the listing before placing a bid, as there are a number of individuals who list 20p coins as "undated" but on closer inspection have included the text "on tail side only", which is just a regular 20-pence coin! Yet some of these auctions attract a number of bids from unwary buyers who could end up paying quite a lot of money for a regular 20-pence piece, many of which, they undoubtedly already own. They may recover their money from the auction company, but I would imagine this would be a protracted and frustrating process.
1993 5 Pence (5p) Issue
In 1993, the Royal Mint took the unusual step of not issuing any 1993 dated five-pence coins into circulation, believing that there were sufficient coins in circulation and an additional general circulation issue was not required. There were, however, proof and the annual collector's sets issued for this year, and estimates are that there were around 100,000 coins produced for this purpose. Due to this fact, any 1993 5p is considered very collectible and valued around £4-£6, which is a considerable increase on its face value. Although it’s unlikely that there are too many of these coins in circulation, I wouldn’t consider it impossible, although to lengthen the odds even further, the Royal Mint has, since January 2013, initiated process of phasing out the pre-2011 cupronickel coins, in favour of the newer nickel-plated steel.
2005 Guy Fawkes £2.00 Error Coin
The two-pound coin is regularly reissued with different designs and inscriptions on the edging. In 2005, the Royal Mint issued a £2.00 coin commemorating the 400th anniversary of the gunpowder plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. However, on a number of coins put into circulation, the edge inscription read "Pemember, Pemember the Fifth of November" (instead of "Remember, Remember the Fifth of November". Recently, these coins have sold for around £16.00 on eBay, although in 2014, prices dropped considerably to around the £5 mark, sometimes slightly lower.
2011 Mary Rose and King James Bible and other collectible Two Pound Coins **Updated January 2015**
Also, in 2011, the Royal Mint released into circulation limited numbers of Mary Rose 500th Anniversary (1,040,000) and 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible Two-Pound coins (975,000). These are collectible, with buyers willing to pay £6-£7 for the Mary Rose and around the same for the King James Bible coin.
In 2012, a £2 coin was issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. It features on reverse a detailed face profile made up of the names of the author's books and, as per the previously mentioned coins, appears worth more than its face value (as of May 2013, likely to be in the region of £8).
Other rarer sterling two-pound coins worth looking out for are the 1996 Tenth European Championship from 1996 and 2002 Commonwealth Games coins, although as both are of the older £2 coin design, they are unlikely now to be in circulation (although they could be sitting in coin jars!).
Of the more modern design, the two versions of the 2013 London Underground (one featuring an underground train/tube and one featuring the London Underground logo) both appear to be quite sought after by collectors and might be worth holding onto for now.
The Rio 2012 Handover £2 had a fairly low mintage of 845,000, issued to commemorate the closing of the Olympics. The Royal Mint sold these for £10 each, and the coins are no longer available for sale. However a few are appearing in circulation, so they are well worth looking out for, with circulated versions easily reaching double face value and brilliant uncirculated selling for £8-£10.
There was some confusion as to the mintage numbers of this coin, with the Royal Mint for some time stating is was 65,000. However as of April 2014, it has confirmed that 845,000 copies of this coin were minted.
The 2013 350th Anniversary of the Guinea had a relatively low mintage of 2,990,000. The coins aren't proving to be that common and, as such, are worth double face value, at around £4.
Towards the end of 2014, there has been a high interest from collectors in the £2 coin released in 2014 to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1. The coin initially attracted a higher premium of around £5, but as more come into circulation, this has dropped down to just above face value. However, there is a lot of interest in this coin, so I would suggest it's worth holding onto, as I think its value will increase in time.
The £2 coin commemorating the 500th Anniversary of Trinity House had been regularly selling for £7 in December 2014. It slipped slightly to £5-£6 as of January 2015, but this is one definitely worth looking out for and holding onto if you find one. It will be some time before The Royal Mint release mintage figures, but reports are that these weren't putting much of an appearance as of December 2014. However, the price inflation may just be driven by impatient collectors; we shall see. It also appears that as of December 2014, the first 2015 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta coins are starting to appear. They are available on the Royal Mint website and are selling for around £14.
2015 The Royal Navy Two-Pound Coin
I read with interest the November 2, 2015 press release from the Royal Mint and subsequent press reports indicating that the Royal Navy World War One Centenary Two-Pound coin was the rarest coin in circulation after the Royal Mint had passed 100 of the coins to HMS Belfast, located on the River Thames in London, to be handed out in change to lucky visitors. Whilst the 100 coins that the Royal Mint have passed to the Imperial War Museum are technically the official “rarest” coins in circulation, and the press release/reports have no doubt fuelled a price inflation in this coin, which, as of mid February 2015, was selling in the £25-£35 price range (and there were even some being offered for £1000!), what has only been mentioned in a few articles is that the same coin is available to buy direct from Royal Mint in a commemoration pack for £10 (+ £3 p&p)!
Interestingly though, the version of the coin that is being struck up until (I believe!) March 2015 will feature the observe design of the current Queen’s portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS. However, when the coin is released into general circulation later in the year, the obverse will feature the new “Fifth” Portrait (the design is due to be announced in March 2015), so it will make the current batch of Royal Navy 2015 WW1 Centenary coins unique. This means the current batch may prove a worthwhile investment whilst they are currently available, which may not be for much longer.
50-Pence Piece: Many Designs, But Some Are Rarer Than Others
The heptagon-shaped fifty-pence piece has been issued with more commemorative designs than any other UK coin, and as designs are issued in variously sized batches, this can make the rarer designs much more collectible (and valuable) than others.
Prior to its reduction in size in 1997, a 1992/1993 issue to commemorate the completion of the EC single market and British presidency of the council of ministers had an issue of just 109,000 coins (compared to the usual 5-12 million!) and is therefore quite collectible. One of these commemorative coins reached around £30 on eBay as of December 2014. The coin is fairly distinctive, with a conference table with a 12-star design and the dates 1992 and 1993 written at the top. As it's of the larger variety, this 50-pence piece wouldn't be in circulation, but it might be worth checking your penny jar to see if you have one!
**Update January 2015** Of the current smaller 50p coins in circulation, the 2009-issued 250th anniversary of Royal Botanical (Kew) gardens design is the most sought after, as it had a small issue of only 210,000. During 2009-2013, many were available on eBay, and they were generally selling for up to £10 each. However during February 2014, there was a massive upsurge in interest in this coin due to the Royal Mint issuing a press release on 20th February 2014 citing this coin to be the rarest of all 50p issues. This information was then picked up by the UK press, and as a result, values soared up to the £50-£60 region, and on some occasions, even higher! Some dealers on eBay were even listing fixed price sales of £200 for this coin! There is still a good chance that the odd one may turn up in your change (I got handed one in change in February 2013 and then another in July 2013, so they are still definitely out there in circulation!). After the excitement of Royal Mint's press release died down, prices for the Royal Botanical (Kew) Gardens 50p dropped down to the £30-£35 level, depending on condition. Although that rate is way down from its previous peak, it is still a pretty good increase on the coin's face value!
2012 London Olympic Commemorative 50-Pence Coins
The 2012 London Olympics commemorative coins are already proving popular with collectors and dealers alike. A total of 29 different designs have been issued, some in smaller numbers than others. The full sets are now commanding auction prices of around £35.00 (a drop from the £50.00 a set back in July 2012, but still, with a face value of £14.50, that's quite a good premium!). Individually, the coins probably most desirable, based on issue numbers, are likely to be the:
- Football (issue of 1,125,500)
- Wheelchair Rugby (1,765,500)
- Wrestling (1,129,500)
- Tennis (1,454,000)
All other coins in the series were issued in numbers between 800K and 1.1 million. Some of these coins are in general circulation and currently going for £3-4 on eBay.
The Royal Mint confirmed in August 2012 that the amount of Olympic 50p coins "disappearing" out of circulation was their highest ever recorded since decimalization. Whilst they would normally expect 2-3% to be removed by collectors, an audit suggested that a huge 70% of the coins have been hoarded by collectors as a London Olympic's Souvenir, which may explain the drop in value of the full sets from the high's of nearly a year ago.
There is a very rare Olympics 2012 Aquatics 50p coin that was issued initially, which featured the water passing directly over the swimmer's face. A small release of 600 coins were put into circulation. However, the design was withdrawn, and an altered design was issued with the swimmer in a cap and goggles and the face being clearly visible. So if you have collected the Olympic 50p coins, it's well worth checking your aquatics design 50p. If you have the rare design, it could be worth a thousand pounds or more!
**2014 update** As of March 2014, the most "in demand" of the Olympic 50p coins in are:
- Wrestling (£4-£5)
- Football (£4-5)
- Judo (£6)
- Triathlon (£9)
Full sets of 29 circulated coins are worth around £50-£60, whilst the full uncirculated collectors sets with folder and "completer" medallion are around £50, higher for the uncirculated versions. The withdrawn Aquatics 50p is occasionally available for sale by dealers and private collectors, with price tag of anywhere between £900 and £3000!
Good luck in finding any of the rarer ones!
2002 Commonwealth Games Two-Pound Coins
A spur in interest in the 2002 Commonwealth Games £2 coins has recently caught my eye. These coins were issued to celebrate the XVII Commonwealth Games held in Manchester that year. The coins were issued in four designs, all very similar but with the small flag changed on each of designs to represent each country in Britain, and each had slightly different mintage figures:
- Scotland (771,750)
- England (650,500)
- Wales (588,500)
- Northern Ireland (485,500)
Northern Ireland appears to be the most sought out, for obvious reasons (around £15.00, as of June 2014), although the others are collectible with Wales around £5, Scotland around £4, and England around £4. These coins are still about, as I was passed an England one very recently. The price estimates are based on circulated condition; uncirculated versions would hold a higher value. Circulated sets of all four coins are selling for around £30-£35 as of June 2014.
British Crown Dependency Coins
A number of British Crown Dependencies such as the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey and British Overseas Territories such as Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands, along with many others, issue their own currency, which is fully exchangeable with the British sterling coinage. In most cases, the size and denomination of the coinage is also identical to that of the UK sterling coins.
The coins are usually produced by local or contracted mints rather than the Royal Mint, under licence, and it is not unusual for these coins to come into circulation in the UK. Some of these coins are quite collectible, often for their unique or unusual designs. For example, the Isle of Man coins (which are produced by Pobjoy Mint, who took over production from the UK Royal Mint in 1972) feature a huge range of designs, particularly in the 50 pence range, of which the T.T and Christmas designs from the early 1990s are popular with collectors. Circulated coins with these designs frequently sell for around £12-£15 on auction sites such as eBay. Gibraltar have also produced a number of Christmas-themed 50-pence, and these are also quite collectible, although some designs such as the "carolers" are more collectible than others.
The "Legend" of the 1983 Two-Pence (New Pence) Coin
The British two-pence coin was introduced during decimalisation in 1971. Between 1971 and 1981, all two-pence minted between 1971 and 1981 had "New Pence" on the reverse. In 1982, the Royal Mint decided to replace the wording "New Pence" with "Two Pence". In 1983, the Mint produced approximately 640,000 two-pence coins, which only went into special collector's sets and not into general circulation. However due to an error, a small number included the old-style "New Pence" on the reverse, instead of the new "Two Pence". Obviously, these are highly sought after and could reach anything between £250 to £650 depending on condition. It is extremely unlikely that you will find one, but you never know!
Royal Mint's First £20 Coin Issued in October 2013
Whilst it is unlikely (although not impossible!) that you'll be passed one of these back as change, On 31st October 2013, the Royal Mint minted a limited edition 20-pound coin for the first time. It was only available direct from the Royal Mint's website (unfortunately only available to UK residents with a maximum order of three per household), and there were just 250,000 produced. The coin was struck in .999 fine silver and featured Benedetto Pistrucci's George and the Dragon illustration on the reverse and Ian Rank-Broadley's Queen's head design on the obverse. The coin has proved to be popular with collectors and as of April 2014, the Royal Mint sold out all remaining coins.
The coins then started to appear on auction sites above their face value (£20-£25) with "for sale" values up to £35!
So it looks like these are now very collectible. Although they are legal tender, they are unlikely to appear in loose change, as most shops, I would imagine, we be unlikely to accept them. The Royal Mint also announced a second £20 coin issue in July 2014 with a design based around the anniversary of the First World War, which I would think is also very collectible.
Royal Mint Issuing "Lucky" Silver Pennies
This story caught my eye recently: The Royal Mint offered all babies born on the same date as Prince George (22nd July 2013) a limited-edition silver sterling penny! The coin is struck in .925 sterling silver. The first coin was presented to Prince George by the Mint and remaining coins were offered to parents of all babies born on the same day. The application for the coin had to be made via the Royal Mint's Facebook page (so 21st Century!) and closed on 20/09/13. The Royal Mint claims it only produced 2013 (although I'm not sure if this refers to the free give away or the overall mintage) of these coins and has confirmed that it had received 1,768 valid applications. The good news however, is that, as of 27/09/13, the Royal Mint is still advertising the coins as available to buy. However, based on the number minted and those claimed, I'd imagine there are very few left. They are on sale for £28.00 each (with either a pink or blue pouch), and I believe they accept international orders. I'd imagine these will become very sought after once they sell out. As of March 2014, the coins were available on eBay for around £27-£30.
When the Coins in Your Pocket Aren't Worth as much as you think!
A few questions raised by readers of this article have made me think it might be worth raising the issue of counterfeit coins. The most forged of all UK coins is the £1 coin, with the Royal Mint in November 2013 advising that they estimate that 3.04% of all one-pound coins in circulation are forgeries, which is an increase on their previous estimate of 2.74%. So, with an estimated 1.5 billion £1 coins in current circulation, it’s possible that as many as 45 million are fake! Which is a huge amount! The Royal Mint suggests that fakes can usually be spotted with close scrutiny. The most obvious sign is poor quality with the detailing not being sharp or well defined on either the reverse, observe, or edge milling, or that the characters are unevenly spaced. Also, as the designs are changed each year, the date may not correspond with the design that year, the weight may feel different, or the sound may differ from a genuine coin when dropped. Other signs to look out for are that the colour does not match that of other one-pound coins or that the coin appears shinier or newer than would correspond to its year of issue, as genuine £1 coins should lose their lustre in general circulation. The Royal Mint produces a very detailed free chart on its website with all the information you should need to spot a fake.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s illegal to pass on fake coinage and that the Royal Mint advises that any coins that are deemed forgeries should be handed in to the local Police Station (although, even with 45 million potential fakes in circulation, I doubt many are handed in!).
To combat this huge amount of counterfeiting, the Royal Mint has announced in March 2014 that it will issue a new £1 coin design, which will be released into circulation in 2017. The new 12-sided coin, similar in styling to the old pre-decimal three pence, is to be the world's first to have three-level security (overt, covert, and forensic), which the Royal Mint hopes will make it very difficult to counterfeit, or at least very easy to detect fakes.
The Great British Coin Hunt
In the last couple of years, the Royal Mint has issued a series of four “Collectors” folders under the “Great British Coin Hunt” banner. These folders broadly follow the same format, in which there is space for all the available coin designs at the time of issue, along with one space for a “completer’s medallion”, which can be purchased directly from the Royal Mint online, or from usual online site’s and generally retails at UK£5.00 for the folder and £2.99 for the medallion.
The collector's folders issued so far are:
- The “UK 50p Sports Edition Coin Collector's Album”, designed for collecting the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This folder can accommodate the 29 London 2012 50p coin designs, plus one space for the “Completer” medallion.
- The “UK 50p Coin Collector's Album”, which accommodates 16x 50p coin designs (plus 1x completer’s medallion).
- The “UK £1 Coin Collector's Album”, which accommodates 21x £1 Coin designs (plus 1x completer’s medallion)
- The “UK £2 Coin Collector’s Album”, which accommodates 31x £2 Coin design’s (plus 1x completer’s medallion).
The interesting thing is that the completed sets are unsurprisingly very collectible and generally offer a value way over the face value of the coins that are in the folder. Generally, the rough value of each, (including the folder and completer’s medal) would be:
- UK 50p Sports Edition Coin Collector Album—£35-£50 (Coin’s Face Value + Folder & Completer’s medal = £22.49)
- UK 50p Coin Collector Album—£50 (Coin’s Face Value + Folder & Completer’s medal = £15.99!)
- UK £1 Coin Collectors Album—£55 (Coin’s Face Value + Folder & Completer’s medal = £28.99)
- UK £2 Coin Collector’s Album—£130 (Coin’s Face Value + Folder & Completer’s medal = £71.99)
The value of the 50p set is quite remarkable, but then half of its value is probably made up of the Kew Garden, which around July 2014 was worth about £20-£25! Nonetheless, the coin collector’s folders are a great product and a fantastic place to store those elusive coins! As of July 2014, all the collector's folders and completer's medallions are still available to buy directly from the Royal Mint.
2013/2014 Floral One Pound Designs
Towards the end of 2014, there has been a lot of interest from collectors in the 2013/2014 Floral Emblem One Pound Coin’s. The “England” and “Wales” versions were issued in 2013 with relatively low mintage levels of 5,270,000 each. The “Northern Ireland” and “Scottish” versions were issued in 2014 and although the Royal Mint haven’t yet released mintage figures, I would suspect the levels to be equal or slightly lower than the 2013 issues. There appears to be few of the 2014 versions yet in circulation and collectors towards the end of 2014 and moving into 2015 are keen to add to their collections and are happy to pay a premium for these, as of December 2014, the “England” & “Welsh” designs are selling for £2-£3 and for the 2014 designs, the “Northern Ireland” design is fetching £3-£4, but it’s the “Scottish” design that appears to be in demand, with buyers willing to pay up to £10 (incl P&P), so it’s well worth keeping an eye out for these!
Collectible One-Pound Coins
The collecting potential of the mono nickel-brass one-pound coin invariably gets overlooked in favour of its slightly more glamorous neighbour, the £2 coin. It may surprise some to learn that the one-pound coin, in its current format since 1983, has had 23 separate designs. However, on the whole, pound coins have generally had a large annual mintage figure of tens of millions and for some years even hundreds of millions. As of March 2014, over 1.5 billion were in circulation, making them perhaps less desirable to collectors. However, with the introduction in 2013 by the Royal Mint of its “Great British Coin Hunt” collector’s folders, it appears this perception is changing.
There are a few one-pound coins that are rarer than others, with relatively low mintage figures. These are definitely worth looking out for. These are the:
- 2011 one-pound “Edinburgh” design from the Capital Cities Series. This coin had a mintage of only 935,000, which is the lowest of all of the current one-pound coin designs in circulation, and collectors are willing to pay around £4 for these coins, occasionally more.
- In the same Capital Series is the 2011 “Cardiff” one-pound design, with a relatively low mintage figure of 1,615,000, making it the second rarest circulated one-pound design. Again, collectors are willing to pay around £3 for the coin, a 200% increase on face value!
2015’s £100 Pound Coin!
In late December 2014, the Royal Mint announced the release of their first ever one-hundred-pound coin! Featuring two ounces of .999 fine silver, the Royal Mint are issuing a limited release of 50,000. The coin will be one of the last to feature Ian Rank-Broadley’s Queen’s Head portrait, and on the reverse, the coin features London’s iconic “Big Ben”. The coin is a brilliant silver and 40mm in diameter, which makes it just slightly larger than one of the commemorative silver crowns. Although full legal tender, the issue is designed for collectors rather than general circulation (unfortunately!), so the chances of finding one in your change are pretty much zero. Nonetheless, it is a stunning coin in every sense and would no doubt be a worthy investment. As of late January 2015, they were no longer available for purchase on the Royal Mint website and were already selling for £150 on eBay, which is a remarkable return on investment in such a short space of time!
2016 Beatrix Potter 150th Anniversary 50 Pence Designs
2016 has so far been an extraordinary year for UK coinage, with a number of new designs featured on Two Pound and Fifty Pence coins, including new £3 Shakespeare’s anniversary, Great Fire of London and Battle of Hastings. The set that so far appears to be creating the most interest is the five separate Fifty Pence design’s, that are being released to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter. Four of the coins feature reverse illustrations by Royal Mint designer Emma Noble of Beatrix Potter’s much loved characters – Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Squirrel Nutkins, whilst the fourth commemorates the 150th Anniversary. A small number of Peter Rabbit coins were initially released at Easter 2016 in England’s Lake District, at locations which had links to the author. The other designs should go into circulation in April to June 2016 and the Royal Mint are also producing a collectors album, so they will certainly will be in demand from collectors wishing to complete the set. As of April 2016, collectors were paying up to £14 to obtain the coin. Whilst not circulated coins, the Royal Mint also produced limited edition Silver Proof versions of these coins with the characters coloured-in. Limited to 15,000 of each design and retailing direct from Royal Mint at £55, the coins sold-out almost immediately and the initial Peter Rabbit design was selling on eBay for over £500 in early April, but has slipped back to around £300.
Just for fun! Have you found any of these coins?See results without voting
New Check Your UK Change Facebook Page!
- Check Your UK Change
As this webpage is fairly static and there appears to be a lot of updates and news relating to UK coins happening on an almost daily basis, I thought it might be an idea to try out a related Facebook page. Let me know what you think!
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